Guidelines developed by the National Association for Diversity Officers for Higher Education (NADOHE) to inform and assist individual administrators and institutions in aligning the work of the CDO on their campuses with the evolving characteristics of the profession.


Has the ability to envision and conceptualize the diversity mission of an institution through a broad and inclusive definition of diversity.

Institutions of higher education, like the U.S. population, are becoming increasingly diverse, not just in terms of racial and ethnic identity, but also age, cultural identity, religious and spiritual identity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical and mental ability, nationality, social and economic status, and political and ideological perspectives. Chief diversity officers give voice to diversity in ways that continue to evolve in regional, national, and international contexts that extend beyond a traditional or historical understanding and application.


Understands, and is able to articulate in verbal and written form, the importance of equity, inclusion, and diversity to the broader educational mission of higher education institutions.

The ability to effectively communicate the importance of equity, inclusion and diversity in verbal and written forms are fundamental practices necessary to advance the diversity mission of an institution through formal and informal interactions with stakeholders and constituents both inside and outside higher education institutions (e.g., faculty, staff, students, administrators, legislators, media, alumni, trustees, community members, and others). CDOs articulate the importance of equity, inclusion and diversity in a variety of ways (e.g., educational benefits, business case, social justice frameworks) that fit the broader educational missions of the institutions they serve.


Understands the contexts, cultures, and politics within institutions that impact the implementation and management of effective diversity change efforts.

Colleges and universities are complex organizations that are accountable to internal, state, national, and global stakeholders. The internal contextual landscape is influenced by the interactions between and among these stakeholders, and affects the definition and implementation of the diversity mission. CDOs have the strategic vision to conceptualize their work to advance diversity, inclusion and equity, while simultaneously having the administrative acumen to be responsive to the broader contextual landscape.


Has knowledge and understanding of, and is able to articulate in verbal and written form, the range of evidence for the educational benefits that accrue to students through diversity, inclusion, and equity in higher education.

Existing research on the educational benefits of diversity to students provides a critical foundation for the work of chief diversity officers, and new findings continue to emerge in the scholarly literature. Basic fundamental knowledge and understanding of a wide range of evidence provides the basis for daily activities, diversity programming, leadership, and strategic planning at multiple levels of institutional operations.


Has an understanding of how curriculum development efforts may be used to advance the diversity mission of higher education institutions.

Curriculum is the purview of the faculty, and it also is a place where institutional diversity goals and learning outcomes are articulated, implemented, taught, and assessed. Chief diversity officers partner with faculty in curriculum development efforts to facilitate inclusive teaching and learning practices.


Has an understanding of how institutional programming can be used to enhance the diversity mission of higher education institutions for faculty, students, staff, and administrators.

Colleges and universities vary with respect to mission, values, culture, and context. Chief diversity officers can identify and apply multiple sources of delivery methods to reach a diverse and complex audience within campus communities to enhance the diversity mission of an institution. These methods include, but are not limited to, presentations, workshops, seminars, focus group sessions, difficult dialogues, restorative justice, town hall meetings, conferences, institutes, and community outreach.


Has an understanding of the procedural knowledge for responding to bias incidents when they occur on college or university campuses.

Bias incidents and hate crimes often occur on college and university campuses. Chief diversity officers serve as leaders regarding appropriate and effective responses to such incidents. In collaboration or partnership with others, chief diversity officers provide leadership in advancing appropriate and effective campus responses, such as (1) providing support and consultation to victims; (2) assisting in working through the institutional complaint process; (3) engaging law enforcement, regulatory agencies, or other campus authorities; and (4) providing consultation to campus leadership in communications with the media, as well as campus and community constituents, about the incidents. Where appropriate, CDOs facilitate, monitor and/or assist in record keeping and reporting activities that are required by law regarding such incidents (e.g., Clery Act; Title IX).


Has basic knowledge of how various forms of institutional data can be used to benchmark and promote accountability for the diversity mission of higher education institutions.

Existing research provides compelling arguments for the use of various assessment tools to document the educational benefits of diversity and institutional effectiveness. Diversity efforts should be assessed beyond compositional data and satisfaction surveys. Basic knowledge of various methods of institutional data collection (e.g., academic achievement gaps, academic remediation, STEM participation, honors enrollments, graduation and persistence rates, recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff) will help chief diversity officers promote accountability.


Has an understanding of the application of campus climate research in the development and advancement of a positive and inclusive campus climate for diversity.

Campus climate research plays a central role in the development and advancement of strategic diversity planning. Although expertise as a researcher is not generally required, CDOs should be capable of providing oversight for periodic assessments related to campus climate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Chief diversity officers can draw on the expertise of internal or external consultants to conceptualize and conduct research on their own campuses, and to utilize the findings to effect change and advance the development of institutional strategic planning efforts.


Broadly understands the potential barriers that faculty face in the promotion and/or tenure process in the context of diversity-related professional activities (e.g., teaching, research, service).

Teaching, research, and service activities take many forms, and are the intellectual drivers and pillars for most colleges and universities. Working collaboratively with the academic community, chief diversity officers can support and advocate for faculty who work to challenge the hegemony of a disciplinary body of knowledge or who are historically underrepresented in the academy.


Has current and historical knowledge related to issues of nondiscrimination, access, and equity in higher education institutions.

Access and equity are central to the mission of higher education institutions, as are nondiscrimination laws, regulations, and policies, which have a longstanding history of advancement and modification. Institutional policies related to nondiscrimination may conform to, or be at variance with, federal and/or state mandates. For example, sexual orientation nondiscrimination may be incorporated into institutional policies despite lack of inclusion in federal or state laws. The chief diversity officer should have an awareness and understanding of the interplay among various laws, regulations, and policies regarding nondiscrimination.


Has awareness and understanding of the various laws, regulations, and policies related to equity and diversity in higher education.

Institutions of higher education operate under the authority and jurisdiction of laws, regulations, and policies related to (or affecting) equity and diversity in higher education. In some cases, laws, regulations and policies mandate specific actions regarding issues of harassment, hate, nondiscrimination, equal access, equal treatment, and procurement/supplier diversity. In other instances, laws, regulations and policies place restrictions on the types and forms of activities chief diversity officers may pursue in advancing a diversity mission. Thus, awareness and understanding of the various national, state, and local laws, regulations, and policies are critical for the effective functioning of the CDO.